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Migration, residential investment, and the experience of “transition”

Tracing transnational practices of Albanian migrants in Athens

Gerda Dalipaj

This article traces the complexity of migration patterns and residential investments of Albanian migrant families. Interlocutors built new houses in Albania and bought, additionally, apartments in Greece. While they consider their multiple residences to be an “achievement” and “immovable wealth,” they continued to see themselves as “runaways from transition.” The article emphasises the multidirectionality and multilocality of these investments. It shows that, despite various spatial tactics that migrants have successfully employed in making the link between different places, for them “transition” continues to mean the permanence of temporal conditions. This permanence is constructed in two ways: as a temporal continuity of conditions of uncertainty, unattainable futures, pain, and fatigue in a postsocialist country; and as a spatial continuity of these same conditions across different spaces, postsocialist or not, which become interconnected within wider ideologies and policies and not only through the mobility of individuals.

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Hanne Tange

The article builds on an empirical study of knowledge practices in international, interdisciplinary MA education, foregrounding the role of academic staff in identifying and explicating academic norms to students recruited from different subject areas and institutions. A central theme is transition, which refers to the state of liminality that postgraduates can experience when new to a discipline, institution and sociocultural context. I argue for lecturers as ‘transition managers’ who may ease students’ transfer into an unfamiliar academic culture. This argument is explored in an analysis of interview data collected from four MA courses, which suggests that lecturers’ transition management involves an awareness of classroom diversity, an acceptance of responsibility for academic socialisation and the development of new pedagogic practices.

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Mathijs Pelkmans

This essay reviews the revolutionary situations that recently emerged in the post-Soviet world, focusing on the 'Tulip Revolution' in Kyrgyzstan. Observers were quick to explain this revolution in terms of democratic resistance to authoritarianism. This view is particularly problematic given that Kyrgyzstan was among the 'fast reformers' in the region and made its name as an 'island of democracy'. Instead of assuming that problems started when the country digressed from the ideals of liberal democracy, this essay argues that democratic reform and market-led development generated both the space and motivations for revolutionary action. Democratic reforms created the possibility of political dissent, while neo-liberal policies resulted in economic decline and social dislocations in which a temporary coalition between rural poor and dissenting political leaders was born.

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The Theatre of Human Trafficking

A Global Discourse on Lao Stages

Roy Huijsmans

Using the Lao PDR as a case study, this paper analyses human trafficking as discourse. Human trafficking is identified as a global discourse that is globalized through a set of powerful relations and actors. Following Appadurai, it is argued that this global discourse is not passively received by local actors such as the Lao state. This demonstrated by unravelling the global–local interactions through which it has entered the Lao social landscape. This is complemented with an analysis of a series of events in which the human trafficking discourse is staged on Lao soil. On this basis, the paper argues that the global human trafficking discourse is actively indigenized through, amongst other things, the social practice of staging. In addition, the paper argues that this indigenized discourse is employed by actors in more localized power struggles; in this case, by the Lao state as a response to boundary crises triggered by the phenomenon of cross-border migration into Thailand as an important manifestation of the overarching process of transition.

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Theorizing Mobility Transitions

An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Cristina Temenos, Anna Nikolaeva, Tim Schwanen, Tim Cresswell, Frans Sengers, Matt Watson and Mimi Sheller

Despite a surge of multidisciplinary interest in transition studies on low-carbon mobilities, there has been little evaluation of the current state of the field, and the contributions of different approaches such as the multi-level perspective (MLP), theories of practice, or the new mobilities paradigm. As a step in this direction, this contribution brings together scholars representing different theoretical perspectives and disciplinary fields in order to discuss processes and uneven geographies of mobility transitions as they are currently theorized. First, we reflect upon the role of geographers and other social scientists in envisioning, enabling, and criticizing mobility transitions. Second, we discuss how different theoretical approaches can develop mobility transitions scholarship. Finally, we highlight emerging issues in mobility transitions research.

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Bodies in Transition

Girlhoods in Post-Communist Balkan Cinema

Ana Bento-Ribeiro

In this article, I explore how post-Communist teenagers are represented in cinema, especially in relation to consumption, by examining the Serbian film, Klip and the Romanian film, Ryna. In so doing, I analyze the representation of fatherhood in relation to these teenagers, and the representation of teenage sexuality. I examine these teenage bodies in transition within the broader scenario of countries in transition, thus making a comparison between the relationship to the West of the individual and of the region.

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Where to Now?

Germany Rethinks its Energy Transition

Josephine Moore and Thane Gustafson

This article examines Germany’s efforts to transition to a less carbon intensive economy. It follows the origins of the ongoing Energiewende and the civil mentality that allowed Germany to become a leader in the transition to a cleaner future; while also critically analyzing the country’s capacity to in fact achieve those targets, looking closely at both the achievements and shortcomings of existing policies. To date, the focus has largely been on reforming electricity generation; however, as the Energiewende moves along focus must move beyond just sustainability to address other parts of energy policy including energy security and affordability. Beyond just generation attention must also move to sectors such as transportation and construction.

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Girls in Transition

Negotiating, Constructing and Re-constructing Girlhood after the “Fall” in Rural Kenya

Christine Oduor-Ombaka

This article discusses problems of childbearing as experienced in rural Kenya by girls in their adolescence—a powerfully formative time of transition to adulthood. Findings reveal that girls face unique challenges and harsh choices when they are faced with pre-marital pregnancy such as emotional violence and abuse, early marriage, expulsion from school, unsafe abortion and poverty. Many Kenyans are calling on the government and communities to put into place policies and programs necessary for empowering girls with enough information to make a healthy and safe transition to adulthood.

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Four Dimensions of Societal Transformation

An Introduction to the Problematique of Ukraine

Zuzana Novakova

Four years after the Revolution of Dignity, the Ukrainian society is passing through multiple parallel transitions. More often than not, the problematique of Ukraine is framed as a discussion of the speed and extent of reforms’ adoption. This article highlights the need to look in a more organic, interrelated manner, with attention to the sociospatial context that embeds all of the potential institutional change targeted by reforms. Using interviews and group discussions with public servants and civil society actors actively involved in the ongoing reform processes, this article zooms out from the rather fragmented reforms discussion to embed it in a broader societal context. It highlights crucial developments in the four quadrants of the social quality debate: the socioeconomic, the sociopolitical, the sociocultural/welfare, and the socioenvironmental dimension of societal life in postrevolution Ukraine.

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Matthew P. Romaniello

With the arrival of volume 17, our readers will notice there have been some changes to the editorial organization of Sibirica. My predecessor, John Ziker, has stepped away from his role as editor after several years of dedicated service. We are fortunate that he will still be involved with the journal moving forward, taking on the new role of book review editor as well as acting as an associate editor to help with the transition. Dmitry Arzyutov has also joined the journal as a new associate editor. Dmitry produced a special issue for Sibirica last year, “Beyond the Anthropological Texts: History and Theory of Fieldworking in the North,” and we look forward to his future contributions to the journal as an exciting new voice in the field. There have also been several changes to the editorial advisory board, beginning with the appointment of Alexander King, who joins it after many years of service as one of our editors. Our other new board members are Alfrid Bustanov, Jessica Graybill, Igor Krupnik, Erika Monahan, and Hiroki Takakura. This established and prominent group only adds to the stature of our returning board members, extending our breadth and depth in the fields, as well as bringing in expertise in new approaches and methodologies that will complement our existing work.